Sebastian council approves $75,000 purchase of TV studio

SEBASTIAN–The Sebastian City Council is moving forward with purchasing television studio equipment to produce programs to be aired on the city’s government channel.

The move came over the protests of City Councilman Eugene Wolff, who questioned the need to spend the money in light of the current economy.

“I don’t really think we have this kind of mandate” from the residents, Wolff said. This is “something that is more a want than need.”

The city’s Management Information Systems Department had requested up to $75,000 for the studio equipment, which was subsequently worked into the city’s capital improvement projects budget to be funded through discretionary sales tax monies.

“We’re on the cusp of a technology revolution,” Wolff said, noting that more and more people are turning to the Internet for television.

He also pointed out that Sebastian River High has its own TV studio. As such, he said, the city might be able to coordinate with the school to avoid what he considers a duplication of services.

Fellow council members, with one exception, were not swayed by Wolff’s arguments to hold off on making such an investment.

Instead, the majority supported buying the equipment so staff could get started filming videos about the city to air on the government channel.

The purchase came down to a 3-2 vote to approve the expenditure. Wolff and Mayor Jim Hill voted against it.

Councilman Don Wright said that having the city-produced videos would assist the city in its goal to promote a sense of community and could help residents to get involved in city programs.

The studio is “a nice promotional idea,” Wright said. “I’m not convinced this isn’t” a good idea.

Councilwoman Andrea Coy, too, threw her support behind the studio, explaining that there is a large number of people who watch Comcast Channel 25 in the city.

The channel is simulcast on the city’s website, opening up viewership to those outside the city.

Councilman Richard Gillmor told his fellow council members that the government channel is underutilized. The studio, he said, could help stoke the economy by providing content visitors in local hotels could watch and find out what the city has to offer.

“There are fine arguments on both sides,” Mayor Hill said. He told the council that he agreed with Wolff, that in these economic times such a purchase is not necessary.

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